Updated: The ACAAI Guideline To Stinging Insects

Tired African American man bending over outdoors

(BlackDoctor.org) — Spring and summer bring bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets and, this year, updated advice for those who are allergic to these pesky stinging insects. More than half a million people go to emergency rooms and at least 50 die each year from insect stings.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members – doctors who are experts on allergies and asthma – recently published updated guidelines for diagnosing and treating stinging insect hypersensitivity. Here are three key highlights for those who are allergic:

1. Give Immunotherapy a Shot. A growing body of research indicates that immunotherapy (also called allergy shots) is very effective in preventing reactions. The treatment works like a vaccine, exposing you to increasing amounts of the stinging insect allergen to build your immune system’s tolerance to it. By eliminating the allergic reaction, the treatment also can improve the quality of life for patients who are terrified of being stung. While an epinephrine injection can prevent death and is the most immediate way to treat an allergic reaction at the time of a sting, venom immunotherapy is the only way to actually prevent the reaction from starting.

2. Beware the Flight of the Bumblebee. Although typically considered less aggressive, bumblebees are increasingly causing severe allergic reactions, particularly in greenhouse workers, and should be avoided as much as other stinging insects.